On Interstate 480, just south of Cleveland, some billboards cropped up that are attempting to persuade LeBron James to join the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency this summer. What James does between now and the opening of free agency in July is unknown. He is, if nothing else, flattered by the gesture.
The sequence of signs includes one with the slogan “Complete The Process,” a play on the Sixers’ “Trust The Process” mantra with their young team and a billboard that reads: “(hash)PhillyWantsLeBron.”
A Philadelphia-based company put up three billboards on highway to downtown Cleveland this morning saying that city wanted LeBron. Here they are in order. pic.twitter.com/vntsa8h3mE
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 26, 2018
* Billboards hoping to sway James appear on I-480
At Tuesday’s practice, James was asked about the signs and he insisted they are not distracting him or the Cavs, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
“You can say it’s a distraction, it’s not. Not a distraction,” James said Tuesday morning. “It is actually very flattering that I’m sitting here at 33 and in my 15th year and teams or guys — I don’t want to say teams because that becomes tampering — but people in their respective city want me to play for them. That’s cool I think. That’s dope.”
“The story needs to be: LeBron is focused on getting his team back to the Finals. That’s what the story should be,” James said. “Because I’m telling you guys right now. Not, oh, I’m angry about, what, The Golden State story, or I’m angry about, what, the Lakers and Philly and Houston and San Antonio and Sacramento and Orlando and Miami and Toronto. I can name all 30 teams. Like, that’s not the story. The story from me, personally, my focus right now and I’m driven right now to figure out how we can put the right basketball (together) every single night to compete for a championship and get to the Finals for a fourth straight year. That’s what my focus is. That’s what the story is.
“When the summer comes, you guys know that’s been around me for 15 years or not 15 years, how I approach my summer. How I approach my free agency. That has not changed.”
“A lot of potholes on 480,” James said with a smile when asked if he’s driven on I-480 recently. “Gotta be careful with the cars. Gotta be very careful. That’s why I don’t do much driving. I sit in the backseat. You talking about the billboards though?
“I didn’t talk to y’all yesterday but I seen it before that just in case I saw y’all.”
James has a player option for 2018-19, which means he could stay with Cleveland or test the free-agent waters. He has said throughout this season, though, that he will approach that decision once this season ends.
ESPN.com reported the billboards were leased by Power Home Remodeling, a company based in Chester, Pennsylvania. The company’s CEO says the goal is to bring James, a three-time NBA champion, to Philadelphia because “we think the best athletes should want to play here.”
With a young nucleus of talented players including Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, the Sixers, who play in Cleveland on Thursday night (8 ET, TNT), will have the salary-cap space required to land a player like James this summer.
“We’re passionate about Philadelphia,” Asher Raphael, the company’s co-CEO, told ESPN. “We have an amazing city, it’s the best sports town and it’s an awesome place to live. … LeBron is in the conversation of being the best player of all time. We think if he comes to Philly, he gets a couple more championships.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.